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Privet Hedge In Front Of Home Photo by Nancy Andrews

The formal sentinel hedge says "privacy, please" in a manner far more civilized than a stockade fence. A fixture of the suburban landscape 50 years ago, fast-growing privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium and L. amurense) remains a fine choice where conditions are right: To thrive, this deciduous shrub requires a temperate climate and a homeowner willing to wield sharp shears as often as needed.

Privet Hedge Planting Distance

Privet Hedge With Gate Photo by Nancy Andrews

To plant a new privet hedge, create a trench two feet wide and two feet deep, space individual shrubs about 12 inches apart, and bring soil up to the branching trunk. Water deeply and frequently the first year, using drip irrigation.

Privet Hedge Wall Photo by Nancy Andrews

Green wall: Planted close and grown tall, privet quickly forms a lush, living wall, especially with full sun exposure.

How to Make a Privet Hedge Thicker

Privet Hedge With Mophead And Lacecap Hydrangeas Photo by Nancy Andrews

Achieve a thicker hedge by planting two rows of shrubs, zig-zag fashion, in a double-wide trench. This multitiered privet hedge serves as a theatrical backdrop for an informal border of mophead and lacecap hydrangeas.

Trimming

Trimmed Privet Hedges Photo by Nancy Andrews

Neatness counts: A tall privet hedge softens the look of a concrete path, but will quickly encroach upon it if permitted to become overgrown. Privet needs to be sheared anywhere from twice to four times a season. To prevent the plant from becoming invasive, be sure to remove its white flowers before they go to seed.

Maintenance

Low Maintenance Privet Hedge Photo by Nancy Andrews

Maintenance is a routine matter: For every fresh foot of growth, shear off six inches or so. If that sounds like sheer torture to you, opt for a low-maintenance fence. To maintain density, shape the hedge narrower at the top and fatter at the bottom; this allows sunlight to reach lower leaves and keeps the plants healthier.

Privet Hedge Over Front Walk Photo by Nancy Andrews

Garden gate: Make a grand entrance by training plants to meet over the front walk.

Arch

Privet Hedge With Pleached Arch Photo by Nancy Andrews

In this pleached arch, two plants meet at the top to accentuate a path.

Privet Hedge Shaped As Bird Topiary Photo by Nancy Andrews

Shrub love: Topiary lovebirds kiss to form a natural arch above a convex gate.

Privet Hedge Growing Over Metal Arch Of Garden Photo by Nancy Andrews

Come hither: Trained over a metal arch, privet entices visitors to peek beyond the garden gate.

Privet Hedge With Natural Arch Photo by Nancy Andrews

Hedge with a view: A natural arch frames a tranquil view.